This Grilled Chili Ginger Salmon with Strawberry Salsa is sweet, savory, and spicy! Make this grilled salmon the centerpiece at your next cookout!
It’s cookout season!!! It’s time to break out the grills, make giant batches of lemonade, and start grilling
hamburgers and hot dogs FISH! If you, like me, don’t eat the “normal” grilled cookout food (a.k.a. — greasy red meat)— listen up! This spring and summer, it’s time to make seafood the centerpiece at your barbecues! How? With salmon. Specifically, with sockeye salmon. These gorgeous, delicious, massive sides of fish are filling, easy to prepare, and FAST! This Grilled Chili Ginger Salmon with Strawberry Salsa is a show-stopping main course that will be perfect for your next grilled meal.
Buying Wild Salmon
Did you know that wild caught salmon has a ‘season?’ It’s totally possible that you didn’t realize– especially if you live on the East coast, where wild salmon populations are on the decline, or are landlocked (like me), and consequently ‘out of touch’ with fishing seasons. Each year, salmon fight their way upstream. The salmon mate, lay eggs, and then the cycle begins all over again. In Alaska’s fishing waters, prime salmon season runs from May to early fall— providing gorgeous, healthy, and delicious salmon for us all to happily devour.
What does that mean for you? It means that from spring to fall is the PERFECT time to buy Alaska wild salmon. The fish will be frozen fresh, full of healthy omega-3 oils from their long fight up the cold, Pacific waters, and packed with over nine times the vitamin D found in a glass of milk!
For this recipe, we’re using Alaska sockeye salmon– a delicious, flavor-packed fish that holds up beautifully when grilled. Where can you find a huge, grill-worthy side of sockeye? I got mine from my favorite seafood source– Orca Bay. This salmon season, Orca Bay is selling one pound sides of Wild Alaska Sockeye Salmon sourced directly from Bristol Bay— the Alaska fishing hub that sees over 38 million fish each year.
These huge, bright red salmon sides are BIG. (So big, in fact, that I briefly worried that my 18″ charcoal grill wasn’t up to the task! For the record, the salmon fit perfectly– but I wouldn’t have tried it on a smaller grill.) Each salmon side feeds four people as a main course, and is a beautiful, healthy replacement for burgers, a rack of ribs, or any other ‘grilling meat.’
Order Orca Bay Online: Use my Ambassador Code: champagnetastes for 15% off!
Find Orca Bay locally: Use their store finder, or try these vendors: Costco, Ingles, Giant Eagle, Market of Choice, Whole Foods (Northwest Region), HyVee, Dierberg’s, Woodman’s, Acme Fresh, Hen House, Price Cutter, Harp’s, Price Chopper- Kansas City. (Note: if you don’t have one of these stores in your local area, but do have a health food store, check there! That’s where I find my Orca Bay fish.)
Making Grilled Chili Ginger Salmon
If you’re nervous about grilling fish, it’s probably because you’ve either had fish stick to the grill, or have heard that fish sticks to the grill. Don’t let this stop you from grilling fish! It’s an incredibly easy problem to fix– simply let your fish come to room temperature before setting it on the grill, and clean the grill plates before cooking. That’s it!!! Plus, with this hearty and oily sockeye salmon, you shouldn’t have trouble with sticking.
When I grill fish, I worry much less about the fish getting stuck to the grill, and a whole lot more about overcooking the fish. Overcooking this salmon would be a small tragedy– and sockeye salmon tends to cook quickly! Remember, you can always cook it longer if you took it off the grill too early, but you can’t roll back time and ‘uncook’ the fish.
To make sure your salmon is cooked correctly, grill it with the lid off so you can watch the fish cook. As it grills, the bright red flesh will become slightly more opaque and pink from the bottom up, and the skin will begin to get crispy and pull away from the meat. Flip the salmon after about four minutes, when the opaqueness reaches about half-way up the fish, and then cook it another two minutes. This is a very heavy fish, and it will continue to cook as it sits on the serving plate.
Serve your fish immediately, with the easy strawberry salsa, and watch everyone happily polish off this wild Alaska fish!
Tips for Grilling Salmon
- Make sure your grill is completely preheated before setting the fish on the grill. Don’t rush this step– wait for the grill to get hot! If you put your fish on before the grill is hot enough, you’ll have to cook it longer, and risk eating dry fish.
- Make sure the grill plate is CLEAN! Use a brush to clean any residue from your last grilled meal. If the grill plates are dirty, the fish will stick to them.
- If possible, let the fish come to room temperature before grilling. Remove fish from the fridge about 20 minutes before you need to cook it, or at the very least take it out of the fridge before you start prepping all your ingredients.
- Dry the fish thoroughly– wet fish won’t develop crisp edges.
- Avoid nudging the fish while it’s on the grill— it’s more likely to stick if you move it before one side has finished cooking.
- This recipe cooks the salmon directly on the grill plate. However, if cooking your salmon directly on the grill plate makes you nervous, you can also wrap the fish in foil and set the foil packet on the grill, or set your salmon on a cedar plank.
*A Note on Salmon Varieties: This recipe was specifically written for sockeye salmon (red salmon), a variety of salmon that tends to cook more quickly than some other types of salmon. If you want to use this recipe, but are using a different TYPE of salmon (like pink salmon), you’ll likely need to cook your salmon a little longer than the recipe calls for. Check the recipe notes for more details.
Grilled Chili Ginger Salmon with Strawberry Salsa
Grilled Seafood Recipe for Cookouts, Gourmet Picnics, or Dinner
- 1 quart strawberries, hulled and finely diced
- 1 lime, zested and juiced
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
Grilled Ginger Salmon:
- 1 lb sockeye salmon fillet, skin on (recommendation- Orca Bay Alaska Sockeye Salmon)
- olive oil spray
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 TB ground chili powder
- 1 TB freshly grated ginger
- 2 tsp freshly grated horseradish (or sub prepared horseradish- not creamy), more or less depending on desired spice level
Toss together the strawberries, lime zest, lime juice, honey, and mint leaves. Set aside.
Grilled Chili Ginger Salmon:
Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Prepare grill plates by cleaning if needed, and spraying with oil.
Pat salmon dry, and then pat it dry again. Wet fish may stick to the grill. Sprinkle both sides of the salmon with salt. Rub chili powder, ginger, and horseradish onto the flesh side of the salmon until the whole side is lightly coated.
Set salmon, skin-side down, on the grill. (Cooking skin-side down will make your fish easier to flip). Leave the grill lid open or off. Keep an eye on your salmon. As the fish grills, you'll see the edges start to firm up and get crisp. Cook the salmon about 4 minutes, depending on how hot your grill is and how thick the fish is. If the fish sticks to the grill, give it about 30 seconds more-- it will release when it's ready. Flip the salmon, and cook another 2 minutes.
Serve salmon immediately with the salsa. Serve the fish whole for a gorgeous presentation, or divide into 4 servings and then serve.
Cook Time: Cook Time: This recipe assumes you are using sockeye salmon. If you're using other varieties of salmon, you may need to increase the cook time slightly. No matter what type of salmon, flip when the flesh is about halfway cooked through.
*Calorie Information was calculated per serving using My Fitness Pal.